Judge rules SeaTac's $15 wage measure excludes airport workers

The Seattle TimesDecember 26, 2013 

— Less than a week before a $15 minimum wage was to take effect for about 6,300 workers in SeaTac, a King County, Wash., judge has barred its enforcement at the airport but will let it stand at nearby hotels and parking lots.

The upshot is that only about 1,600 hospitality and transportation workers in SeaTac now stand to receive a $15 minimum wage on Wednesday, the start date for Proposition 1.

The other 4,700 people, who work at the airport for contractors, concessionaires and car-rental agencies, are not covered by the ballot measure, King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvis ruled Friday.

Yes! for SeaTac, a labor-backed group that worked to pass Prop 1, criticized the ruling and said it will file an expedited appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Darvas' 33-page rulingsays that a decades-old state law gives the Port of Seattle exclusive jurisdiction over Sea-Tac Airport and, therefore, the municipal ordinance cannot be enforced there.

"The grant of exclusive jurisdiction to the Port of Seattle covers all operations and activities occurring at the airport, its buildings, roads and facilities," Darvas wrote.

SeaTac Prop 1 was fiercely opposed by national and local business interests, including Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association, which brought the legal challenge.

The Nov. 5 ballot measure passed by only 77 votes out of about 6,000 cast, prompting a hand recount that resulted in no changes.

The measure raises the minimum wage in SeaTac to $15 an hour for hospitality and transportation workers and guarantees annual inflation adjustments.

It also requires affected employers to provide paid sick leave, offer part-time workers more hires before hiring additional part-timers and retain employees for at least 90 days after an ownership change.

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